Scott Ricketts Interview
(Spokesman For Mids Homemade Pasta Sauce)

Q – Mr. Ricketts, is the Founder of Mids still alive today?
A – No.

Q – He founded the co. in 1938?
A – Right.

Q – Are you related to him in any way?
A – No. I bought it from the family 10 years ago.

Q – So, how did he start this co. in the Canton, Ohio area?
A – He came over here from Sicily and he brought his mother’s recipes for Sicilian pasta sauces. He opened a little restaurant. His name was Midio Octavio, but everybody called him Mid. So, when he opened his restaurant he called it Mids. Then, back in the late 50’s he started selling his stuff right out of the restaurant he opened-----the spaghetti sauce. Instead of calling it Midio’s or Octavio’s he decided he was going to call it Mids. He grew it and then built a little plant, a real, tiny little plant and just grew it here locally, about a 30 mile radius of the plant. Then, 10 years ago we bought it from the family. His son was running it then and he wanted to retire. So, we bought it from the family and went from about 80 stores to, right now we’re in about 2,100 stores.

Q – You’re really movin’!
A – Yeah. We’ve had some good growth and a lot of good customers to deal with. So, it takes awhile to get started in a new market. But, we’re in 15 states now compared to 2 or 3 counties before.

Q – You sell your sauce in Wegman’s stores.
A – Yeah.

Q – How difficult was it to get them to say yes in carrying your product?
A – We actually sent them samples one time and the category manager that was there at the time, it’s a woman, she’s still there; she really liked our product. She basically called us over the phone. They have a specialty distributor that delivers it for us. They deliver it just for the Wegman’s chain. She put it in through there.

Q – So, when did the Mids bottled spaghetti sauces first hit the grocery shelves?
A – In about 1959.

Q – How difficult is it to get your pasta sauces in that prime position on the grocery shelf?
A – In the grocery business you’re always fighting for shelf space. But, our product is different from most products you see on the shelf, the big national brands because we cook our product over open kettles. We cook it for a lot longer period of time. We use fresh ground beef in our meat product and fresh ground sausage in our sauces. It’s just an old Sicilian recipe that people really like. Once they try it, even though we’re more expensive than national brands, they seem to come back and pick it up, ‘cause we’ve grown quite a bit.

Q – And that’s what makes Mids unique-----the slow, simmering of the sauce over an open flame.
A – Absolutely, yeah.

Q – Do you sell overseas?
A – No. Just in the United States.

Q – How is it determined what the price of the sauce will be? What goes into that?
A – Well, you have to determine it by what your food costs are and labor costs and everything else. That’s how you come up with your pricing. When you’re small like we are, you don’t have the efficiencies of the national brands with buying power and getting better prices on raw materials and our glass. So, we’re always up against that. The main reason our product is more expensive is it takes a lot more time to produce ours and there’s a lot more ingredients that go into ours. We have 15 different spices that go into our product, plus the ground beef and the sausage and the peppers or whatever we put in, whatever we’re making on that particular shift. Everything is always determined by what your costs are. You have to make so much margin yourself so you can sustain a co.

Q – I almost forgot to ask you, what is your title at Mids?
A – President/CEO.

Q – Is the sauce primarily available on the East Coast?
A – Well, the East Coast. We go as far West as Minneapolis. But, what it is is we kind of follow our chain. So, like Wegman’s is in 3 or 4 states so that puts us in those states. And, a lot of our other big chains. We’re in Kroger, and Giant Eagle and Jewel out in Chicago, and the Roundy’s chain in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. So, wherever our chains are, if we get into a new division that puts us into new states.

Q – Where would you like to take this co.? How big would you like to see Mids become?
A – Well, we just built a new plant a year ago. That will take us to about four and a half times the size we were. After that, I don’t know. I’d like to become a real strong regional player. As far as national distribution that would take an awful lot of cash flow to be able to do that. But, right now we’re just growing a little bit at a time each month. We pick up new customers and so far we’ve had some pretty good success with it.

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